Category Archives: mindfulness

Three Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
~Norman Vincent Peale

It happens every year. You create a few resolutions that will hopefully get you back on track for the New Year. You follow through for a couple days, maybe even a couple of weeks. However, as time goes on, the enthusiasm fades and you’re right back where you started. How can you keep the momentum going and accomplish what you set out to do?

To initiate change and stay on your path, you must change the way you perceive your goals. Let’s take a look at the word resolution (re-solution). Resolution comes from Latin, meaning “to loosen or dissolve again,” which was the original meaning. So, it is about loosening your current perspective, transforming your old habits and thought patterns into something more productive.

Here are three tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions:

1. Support your True Essence.

Rather than focusing on how something is going to happen, you will create actions that support your True Essence. This is the key to sustaining and spreading positive energy to help you move ahead.

When you examine your True Essence, you’ll find you are, at your deepest level, healthy, healed, whole, and complete. Learn to identify “should” behaviors that are not aligned with your core truth. “Should” behaviors are actions that you “should” be doing because of pressure from external sources, such as society, family, or friends. For example, you may go to the gym because your family wants you to be thin, yet you can’t meet this expectation. This inner conflict may trigger feelings, such as guilt or sadness. (As is often said in AA meetings, “Don’t should all over yourself.”)

When your emotions are triggered, receive three deep breaths and come back to the Present Moment. This will help you reconnect with your True Essence.

2. Change your thoughts.

In order for a change to take place, you must change your thoughts. This means discovering what your thoughts are and changing them so that you support your True Essence.

In your journal, keep track of your thoughts throughout the day. You may notice that you have thoughts about devaluing yourself, which will ultimately sabotage your progress. Next, meet yourself where you are and go a little higher. Begin with your belief and ask that your belief be raised. These are called Progressive Affirmations. For example, you may write the following:

  1. I need help remembering I am loved.
  2. I am beginning to remember I am loved.
  3. I am remembering more and more I am loved.
  4. I am seeing evidence I am loved.
  5. I am seeing more and more evidence I am loved.

3. Look for Positive Evidence.

During the day, notice positive evidence that supports your Progressive Affirmations. Make a note of what occurred that validated your affirmation. For example, if someone spoke respectfully to you, highlight it in your journal. Also, notice any positive change that takes place in your thoughts, emotions, and body. Answer these three questions in your journal:

  1. What are my thoughts?
  2. What are my feelings?
  3. What is showing up in my body? What physical sensations am I having?

For change to occur, you must look within, at the foundational thought patterns that initiate behavior. When your thoughts change, you will see your authentic self, and your outer world will be a reflection of your inner beauty.

What’s your sign?

There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Want to know the secret to natural healing? You may not realize that you already have the power to heal within you. When it comes to your body, you may overlook or brush aside external signs or indicators that your body is out of alignment with the natural order. Becoming more aware of your outer, as well as inner, guidance is the first step to dissolving energetic blockages to healing.

Physical indicators can be important clues you can use for guidance or direction on your path. An indicator or sign is something that shows what your current conditions are, where you are going, and how far you are from the goal. Highway signs, for example, tell you the distance yet to be traveled to reach a certain city. In your body, indicators appear as energetic balances (such as relaxation) or imbalances (such as tension) of physical health.

One way to reach your goal of a healthy body is to use physical indicators as guidance. When you are receiving guidance from your body, you will notice:

  • Your body will have a feeling of relaxation.
  • Your body will feel more energetic.
  • Your skin will be soft and elastic.
  • Your eyes will be bright and clear.
  • You will have a smile on your face.
  • You will look and feel younger.

Disease is a messenger that can help guide you to better health. Guidance, or physical indicators, that can show you where energy is blocked in your body may include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Tension in the body
  • Physical illness
  • Deficient energy or stamina
  • Bloating or swelling
  • Discolorations on the skin
  • Pain

Intuition, often called “the still small voice within,” is an ever present and trustworthy source of power, security, and comfort. What signs are you receiving? The following exercises can help you become more aware of your body’s wisdom and allow energy to flow:

  1. Close your eyes. Slowly scan your body for areas of tightness (tension, tiredness, pain, etc.).
  2. These areas of tension are guidance. What is this tension telling you?
  3. Ask yourself: “What do I truly want, in my heart, and how do I perceive it will bring me happiness and peace?”
  4. Breathe deeply and open your heart to receiving this message.
  5. Bless this message. Tell the tension that it is heard and that you are there with it.
  6. Describe any changes in your body after receiving guidance.

Use these exercises regularly to help you embrace your body’s wisdom. The best times to do them are when you are less active, such as during rest, upon waking, and just before sleeping. Preventing illness before it manifests by listening to your body’s guidance is the key to a life of freedom, happiness, and peace.

Eating Meditation

Give up everything [in the way of food and drink] that is not absolutely necessary to your life for at least a week or two. You will catch a glimpse of freedom, happiness, and justice. You may soon understand why Macrobiotic persons are completely immunized from disease. The decision is yours.
~ George Ohsawa, Zen Macrobiotics

Would you like to boost your immune system without pills or tonics? A long life, free of disease, and filled with peace and happiness, is available to you right now. You can discover the natural ability of the body to heal itself through simple meditation and the art of eating.

What is meditation?

There are two kinds of meditation: concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation.

  1. Concentration meditation

    Concentration meditation is like a laser beam, which illuminates any object of focus. This kind of meditation produces a calm, unruffled mind, that is detached from emotional and interpersonal attachment. Any object of awareness can be the focus of concentration, whether internal or external, including words (mantra), an image (flame), a spot on the body (abdomen), or a kinesthetic feeling (breath). When the mind wanders, the mind returns to the object of concentration.

  2. Mindfulness meditation

    Mindfulness meditation is like a searchlight that shines over a wide range of objects as they arise in awareness, one at a time. You notice whatever predominates in awareness from moment to moment. Relaxed, choiceless awareness develops in the mind, which directs conscious attention instantly and naturally toward the changing elements of experience. Meditation begins with focus on the breath. Then you direct your awareness to include other experiences, including the senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. When the mind wanders, the mind returns to the breath.

Unlike concentration meditation, which focuses on internal and external objects, mindfulness focuses on experiences and broad awareness. However, both meditations return to the focus object or experience when the mind wanders. This combination of detached emotions and an absence of interpersonal involvement in the development of awareness is central to both meditations.

Eating Meditation

Eating meditation is an example of mindfulness. Follow these steps when you are sitting down to a meal to become aware of the present moment, and help boost your natural immunity:

  1. Take a bite of food and put your chopsticks or fork down.
  2. Chew between 50–100 times for each bite. Proper chewing is important to stimulate digestive enzymes and alkalinize your food.
  3. Swallow your saliva. (Saliva and the water in your body are reflections of the oceans on earth.)
  4. As you chew, breathe in and out five times. (The breath inside and outside your body contains life force energy, called prana in India.)
  5. Repeat this process until all the food is gone.

What did you experience? If you experienced peace and a heightened awareness of being in the present moment, this is what mindfulness meditation is: the process of slowing down, with directed, moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental attention. When you practice eating meditation, you open your heart to the present moment, the universal source of natural healing. Your appreciation and gratitude for the food and all who contributed to providing it for your nourishment are the keys to long-lasting health, peace, and happiness.

Chewing Meditation

I found out was, by the rhythm of my chewing, how I chewed fast, slow or what have you, I could tell the audience what my character was thinking and feeling.
~Rod Steiger

You already know that eating seasonal, locally grown organic foods is good for your health, but did you know that how you eat is as important for your overall well-being as choosing the right foods? One way to promote healing is to raise your awareness around your chewing process to strengthen your relationship with your food.

Setting an intention to cook with a loving mindset enhances the healing energy in your food. When the meal is ready to eat, set another intention to chew mindfully and nourish your relationship with your food for better health. Chewing has numerous benefits along with a macrobiotic diet, including:

  • Alkalinizing the blood
  • Promoting digestion
  • Relaxing the lower stomach muscle
  • Enhancing an overall state of rhythm and relaxation
  • Nourishing your connection with your food

Include the following chewing meditation exercises when you are sitting down to a meal. Before you begin chewing, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have any food cravings?
  2. Do you have any areas of tension in your body?

During the chewing process, focus on the following contrasting activities:

  1. Take a bite of food and chew at normal speed.
  2. Next, chew faster than normal speed.
  3. Then chew slower than normal speed.
  4. Resume chewing at normal speed.
  5. In your journal, record your body’s experiences.

After doing the exercises, answer the following questions:

  1. What changes in your body did you notice while doing the meditation?
  2. How did changing the speed of chewing affect the way you felt about the food?
  3. How did your body’s wisdom guide you during chewing?

Compare your results and notice any guidance that arises that can take you to a deeper, richer relationship with food.

All you need is love, love, love . . .

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
~ Rumi

Want a vibrant, loving relationship that lasts forever? If you desire a romantic relationship, the key may be to unlock the door to the natural flow of Love. Any barriers you create against it are out of alignment with the natural order of the Universe.

Here are three ways to reconnect with your partner and allow Love to flow:

1. Restore balance with meditation and prayer.

While blockages in your relationships can be created by eating extreme or unbalanced foods, they can also be created by merely thinking negative thoughts. In such cases, you can restore balance in your relationships by re-focusing your thoughts on Love through meditation and prayer, to realign yourself with the order of the universe.

2. Focus on the positive.

Negative thoughts, just as extreme foods, can block universal energy from flowing through meridians or energy pathways in the body. However, by focusing on positive thoughts, you can come back to center.

3. Trust your intuition.

Trusting your intuition allows you to access your higher self which will guide you toward Love. All relationships can be healed when you follow your intuition in your daily macrobiotic practice.

Removing blockages to Love’s flow is the key reconnecting not only with your partner, but also with universal energy for a healthier, balanced life.

Food as a Mirror for Personal Growth

Learn to let your intuition—gut instinct—tell you when the food, the relationship, the job isn’t good for you (and conversely, when what you’re doing is just right).
~Oprah Winfrey

But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.
~Carrie on Sex and the City

Who is your significant other? The answer may surprise you. Your relationships include your relationship with nature, people, pets, career, money, food, and anything else with which you form an attachment. How you experience these relationships is a reflection of the greatest relationship in your life–your relationship with yourself. Because eating is an everyday ritual, your relationship with food is an important reflection or mirror of your relationship with yourself.

Your life experiences are based on your perception of these events. It all begins with your view of yourself. Are you living authentically or are you living by other people’s beliefs? You can find the answer to this question by looking at your relationships. Are your relationships supportive? Do they have healthy boundaries? Or do your relationships bring up inner fears? By deconstructing your stories or limiting beliefs behind your fears, you can find out more about yourself and how to listen to your inner voice instead of following other people’s stories.

Your relationship with food can also reveal limiting beliefs about yourself. If you choose foods that distort thinking, such as alcohol, this may suggest that you want to avoid facing your fears. Mindful eating without distractions allows you to focus on the present moment and nourish your inner voice. Then you honor and respect not only the food you are eating but also yourself.

Healthy Relationship Tip

To connect with your partner and yourself on a more profound level, follow this exercise:

3 Appreciations

  1. Sit crossed legged in front of your partner. Say three things you appreciate about your partner.
  2. Your partner says three things he or she appreciates about you.
  3. You say three things you appreciate about yourself.
  4. Your partner says three things he or she appreciates about himself or herself.

This exercise allows your partner to hear how you value him or her. You also hear how your partner values you, and you both hear how you value yourselves.

Are you ready to awaken the healer within?

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.
~Diane Ackerman

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.
~Alan Alda

Ah, morning! The fresh smell of dew on the grass and the musky odor that comes out of the earth when the sun comes up! What smells entice you into nature? Cultivating mindful awareness of your sense of smell helps you strengthen your relationship with nature and universal forces. These universal forces are also known as intuition or inner guidance. Your sense of smell is a profound resource you can use to awaken your intuition for healing from the inside out.

Connecting with inner guidance may be new for you. You may have learned to shut your body down, instead of savoring what your body is doing and being guided by it. Mindfully focusing on your sense of smell can help you notice your energy shifting. This process can help you awaken your intuition.

  1. While seated, ground yourself by placing your hands on your abdomen. Scan your body for areas of tension. Tension may appear as tightness in shoulder muscles.
  2. If your body is holding tension, your mind and emotions will reflect this. What emotions are you feeling (for example, sadness, oppression, anxiety)?
  3. What thoughts are you having?

For contrast, smell your favorite herb while you focus on your body, thoughts, and emotions. Finally, do the exercise again, but this time without smelling the herb. What did you notice in your energy as you did the exercise before, during, and after smelling the herb?

Practice awakening your intuition through your sense of smell and notice how your energy shifts. As you begin to listen to your inner guidance, universal energy will flow through you as the natural healing process unfolds.

Sensing Your Food

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
~Ashley Smith

Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Do you remember as a child how fun it was to play in the grass and smell the flowers? That fun doesn’t have to end. Your awareness of the world is dependent on your senses, which are part of your body. Through your senses, you can experience the natural state of interconnectedness between you and everything around you, even your food. Cultivating mindfulness can enhance your relationship with food and help in the healing process.

Focusing on your senses helps you become mindfully awake and perceive the vividness of each moment. Rather than separating you from your food, every sense organ can become a doorway that provides the experience of natural connection between all beings in nature. Does this make sense?

When you experience yourself as being part of the whole family of life, you become open to universal healing energy. Everything you see is a communion of you and nature, no separation, joined through your senses. Use smell, taste, sight, touch, and sound to connect with your food.

Let’s focus on your sense of smell. To develop a conscious relationship with food, smell your food when you are:

  • Standing at the produce counter in the grocery store
  • Buying grains and sea vegetables in bulk
  • Cutting vegetables for a recipe
  • Washing rice before soaking
  • Cooking a meal
  • Adding herbs and spices to a dish
  • Walking through a garden
  • Sitting in a restaurant

Now practice using your senses of sight, touch, taste, and sound. As you use your senses, you can develop an intimate relationship and profound respect for your food. Can you see how this deep respect and reverence helps to strengthen your connection with nature and allows the healing process to unfold?

Embracing Nature

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
~John Muir

Do you have a favorite place to play in nature? Nature provides many places in which you can both play and pray. Tension dissolves as you embrace nature, which is the natural state of oneness with the present moment. By strengthening your awareness of the present moment, you can cultivate a deeper connection to nature. Your senses are the secret to connecting with universal energy for healing in body, mind, and spirit.

In the blog “Walking Meditation,” I spoke about the importance of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the profound ability to perceive present awareness. This is the process of unlearning the habit of focusing on past and future. Instead, you learn to focus on one thing at a time without being overwhelmed by distractions. The more time you spend in present awareness, the more you become aware of subtle distractions. As these distractions drop away, your awareness of the present moment deepens. Bliss, joy, and happiness manifest. These are nature’s gifts that come with cultivation of mindfulness.

Embracing nature in the present moment is how you cultivate your connection with the outer world. Your energy is constantly exchanging with nature and vice versa. For example, nature provides food for your sustenance, and this food is eventually returned to the outer world. Can you see how boundaries are self-imposed?

You can turn around your everyday mindset of separation with nature through your senses. Every sense organ can become a doorway to an experience of natural connection. Close your eyes and take a moment to smell your food. What does this smell remind you of? For example, when I smell sea vegetables, I am immediately connected with the ocean. I imagine the waves crashing on the beach, pelicans gliding over the water, and boats sailing on the horizon. Through my sense of smell, I experience myself as being part of the whole family of life. Can you see how everything experienced through your senses connects you with the outer world?

By cultivating present awareness through your senses, you connect with Mother Earth. This pathway of coming into union with nature connects you to universal energy. The best part is, your meridians (energy pathways) begin to open as blockages are dissolved, bringing organ systems back into balance to create a healthy long life.

Walking Meditation

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
~Navaho Prayer

Mindfulness is a state of being in the present moment. It is common in your day-to-day existence to “walk” through life unaware of your present experience. You may hold on to thoughts about the past or the future. Practicing mindfulness through walking meditation allows you “be in the present moment.”

Connecting with your body, emotions, and thoughts can help to bring you back to the present moment. To become more mindful, use this process as you begin walking meditation:

  1. The first avenue of mindfulness is body awareness. Your body has a sacred language which can communicate when something is out of balance. Begin the walking meditation by “grounding” yourself in your body. Notice any physical sensations as your feet touch the ground.
  2. In Buddhism, the word “citta” refers to both mind and heart. As you do walking meditation, become aware of your emotions and state of mind. Follow your emotions on your journey, and watch how they change as often as your state of mind changes. You may start off feeling curious and interested about the practice, but by the end, you may feel joyful and relaxed.
  3. Notice that your thoughts also change throughout the exercise. They may be busy and distracted at the beginning and become more focused and calm when you connect with the meditation practice itself.

Being aware of your emotional and mental states during walking meditation helps you practice being in the present moment. As you fill your mind and heart with beautiful experience of walking, you focus less on distractions and illusions. Rather, you are deeply aware of your present experience as you become more centered.

As you practice, you develop greater awareness of your emotions and state of mind. With this awareness, you can be more receptive to universal energy as well as inner guidance. As your mind becomes more centered, you are more open to the beauty of the world both inside and out.

You Luv

You are Love.

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